PITTSBURGH — A strong start from senior Nike Sibande staked Pitt to an early lead and the Panthers were able to hang on late for a slump-snapping 70-57 win over Waker Forest at Petersen Events Center on Tuesday.
Sibande led the Panthers with 23 points, including going 3 for 5 from 3-point range. In what was a tightly contested game overall, he contributed to significantly to both of Pitt’s positive runs.
In the first half, Sibande hit back-to-back 3-pointers and made two free throws as part of a 10-0 Pitt run that turned a three-point Wake Forest lead into an advantage for the Panthers.
With Pitt leading by four with just over 9 minutes to play in the second half, Sibande once again heated up, scoring seven points in an 11-3 Pitt run that made the Pitt lead eight points.
Sibande has stepped up for Pitt in the absence of Au’Diese Toney, who was injured and then left the program. With his 23 points against Wake Forest, he now has 44 over his last three games after scoring 22 in his first nine games with Pitt.
A Miami (Ohio) transfer, Sibande was forced to sit out the start of the season while waiting on a ruling on his NCAA transfer waiver. Listed as a senior, he did not participate in the team’s program senior day ceremony and appears likely to take advantage of the blanket NCAA eligibility waiver for the season to return to Pitt.
In addition to Sibande, Justin Champagnie also provided offense for the Panthers. Champagnie, who came off the bench for the first time this season after collecting two technical fouls last time out against NC State, scored 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting and added 13 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season. Ten of Champagnie’s points came in the game’s final 5:21.
— ACC Men's Basketball (@accmbb) March 3, 2021
Pitt (10-10, 6-9 in ACC) snapped a five-game losing streak with the victory, the team’s first since a win over Virginia Tech on Feb. 3. The Panthers equalled their win total in conference play from the 2019-20 season, when they finished 6-14 against ACC competition.
These guys are locked in 🔒 pic.twitter.com/5yPxIRDTdf
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) March 3, 2021
The Panthers will wrap their regular season on Saturday with a noon tip at Clemson.